U.S. President Donald Trump told Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu voiced his support for the construction of a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, according to transcripts published Thursday by The Washington Post.
Trump told Pena Nieto that building a wall along the border between the two countries would be effective, just as the security barrier constructed along Israel’s borders has been, the transcripts show.
“You know, you look at Israel – Israel has a wall and everyone said do not build a wall, walls do not work — 99.9 percent of people trying to come across that wall cannot get across and more,” Trump told his Mexican counterpart, according to the report.
“Bibi Netanyahu told me the wall works,” he added.
Trump has several times referenced Israel while talking about his planned wall, citing Israel’s use of border fences and other barriers to block terrorists and reduce illegal immigration from the Sinai desert.
"The Wall is necessary," Trump told Fox News in an interview in January. "That’s not just politics, and yet it is good for the heart of the nation because people want protection and a wall protects. All you’ve got to do is ask Israel."
In what may have been a direct response to Trump's comments in that interview, Netanyahu appeared to praise the wall plan on Twitter, resulting in Mexico's government sharply rebuking Israel.
Netanyahu later clarified that the tweet was not meant to support construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, but was simply meant to point out the success of Israel’s security fence.